It's one of my most-favoritest things to do this time of year.
Along about the early to middle part of August, I like to dramatically escalate the back-to-school chatter among the younger generation. Often, I'll pick out total strangers who look like they're about the right age and ask, "So then, when does school start?"
And just between you and me? I don't give a badger's balding backside when school starts. Frankly, I don't even listen to their replies. But I do love to watch that wave of resignation wash over their innocent little faces as they begin to realize that, barring any last-minute reprieves from some crazy state legislator who doesn't believe public education should be compulsory, within just a few short days or weeks they'll be back in the classroom.
And so, today we begin a new feature I like to call the "Back-to-School Summer Bucket List," wherein we ask students what bucket-list-type of activities they were able to cross off over the summer -- as well as things they'd still like to do before school starts in a couple of weeks.
I made a beeline for the always-entertaining George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park, near the mouth of Ogden Canyon, to torment a few kids and gauge their summer lists of activities.
First up was little Cael Wilkinson, of Ogden, who starts kindergarten this year. Topping his bucket list? Why, the George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park, of course.
"This is the funnest thing I've ever tried to do -- dig for dinosaur bones," said Cael, who was visiting the dinosaur park with his mother, Sunni, and little brother, Beck. "I wanna be a paleontologist."
That's the great thing about kids: Whatever they happen to be doing at that very moment is the one thing they've always wanted to do. The rest of us could learn a lot from kids like Cael.
Thus far this summer, Cael's bucket list has crossed off going to Bear Lake, camping in the Uintas, wading in an Ogden pond, swimming at the Roy Aquatic Center, spending a day at Lagoon and countless visits to the library to check out books.
But the big one left on their Summer Bucket List, according to Mom, is visiting a national park like Arches or Canyonlands.
"We want to take the kids to a national park," she said. "We try to go to a different one every year, and we haven't done that this year."
Conversely, the Skidmore kids -- Aubrey, Daniel and Tyler -- insist they have nothing left on their Summer Bucket List.
A big one came off the Clearfield family's list early this summer when they went to Six Flags Magic Mountain in Southern California.
Right now, the family is playing host to a Japanese exchange student, Ayu, and so they've done a number of things with her in the last couple of weeks.
"We saved it all for when she came," said Rhonda Skidmore, the kids' mother.
They went camping at Perception Park, visited an arcade, toured the local aerospace and pioneer museums, and were planning a trip to Temple Square.
Ayu's favorite part of her stay in Utah so far?
"Camping," she said in halting English.
"She really liked the s'mores," explains Aubrey.
So, is this the best summer the Skidmore kids have ever had? All look at each other before saying, in unison, "Yeah!"
Yes, but summer is almost over, children, and you need to understand something little Cael Wilkinson understands as he approaches his first year of school.
"Now it's time to get ready for work," he says.
Got something great on your bucket list before school starts? Share it with Mark Saal at firstname.lastname@example.org, 801-625-4272 or on Twitter at @Saalman.